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Princeton University’s first complete draft of the Princeton Bitcoin textbook, all 308 pages of it, is now available ahead of the book that is due to be published by the Princeton University Press in 2016.

The first draft of the Princeton Bitcoin textbook, is now freely available [PDF]. The book is aimed at computer science students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as advanced students and researchers, software developers, entrepreneurs and technology hobbyists alike.

The book is authored by:

  • Arvind Narayanan, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton,
  • Joseph Bonneau, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford and a Fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
  • Edward Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton
  • Andrew Miller, a computer science PhD student at the University of Maryland, and
  • Steven Goldfeder, also a computer science PhD student

In its introduction, the authors note the book was written to “help cut through the hype and get to the core of what makes Bitcoin unique.”

An excerpt from the introduction reads:


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To really understand what is special about Bitcoin, we need to understand how it works at a technical level. Bitcoin truly is a new technology and we can only get so far by explaining it through simple analogies to past technologies.

The book promises to address all the key questions surrounding the cryptocurrency. A summary of those include understanding how Bitcoin works; how secure bitcoins are and how anonymous they really are. The authors also address regulatory questions facing cryptocurrencies and speculate on the future of crypto and alternate currencies.

Staying true to the structure of an academic textbook, each chapter that makes up the comprehensive 300+ page resource will include homework questions at the end. The textbook also covers programming assignments where readers are challenged to implement Bitcoin’s various components in simplified models as a means to understanding the technology.

Princeton’s Bitcoin and cryptocurrency learning program took off following a free Coursera course called Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies. The programme saw 30,000 users enroll in its very first version, proving to be a successful lecture course, as revealed by Arvind Narayanan in a blog post.

He also added that the group has “tentative plans” to produce a lecture on the Ethereum blockchain.

Narayanan added:

We’re very happy with how the book turned out: it’s comprehensive, at over 300 pages, but has a conversational style that keeps it readable.

Notably, the Princeton University Press owns the copyright of the text, according to Narayanan. However, the contract between the authors and the publisher allows the free distribution of the draft, Narayanan revealed.

Featured image McCosh 50, a Princeton classroom from Shutterstock.

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Posted by Samburaj Das